Research Identifies Barriers, Answers to Reaching Families With Proven Measures for Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

Journal Supplement Examines Effectiveness of Efforts to Protect Infants From Infection

July 6, 2016

A church-sponsored baby shower draws more mothers to HIV testing and treatment than a clinic offering the same services. Home visits with information on family planning double chances that a man in the house will get tested for HIV. Offering cash for clinic visits helps keep women in care, but doesn't add an incentive to taking medicine for HIV.

These are some of the ideas and impacts examined by researchers awarded grants through a U.S. National Institutes of Health/Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator initiative to find ways to ease access to HIV testing, treatment and other measures to prevent HIV transmission from parents to children. Findings from their studies are collected in a supplement edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes on "Advancing PMTCT Implementation Through Scientific Research."

The science of what needs to be done to prevent HIV transmission from parents to children is already known, and has yielded tremendous benefits, the authors of the supplement note. But how to do it remains a question in places where limited health and financial resources prevent people who need services the most from accessing them. That's why, the introduction notes, even as 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have seen a 60 percent drop in pediatric HIV incidence over the last seven years, still 150,000 children in low and middle-income countries become infected with the virus every year, while 42,000 women die of complications from pregnancy and HIV. That's where implementation science, the study of barriers -- first identifying them, and then identifying how to overcome them -- enters the picture.

This excerpt was cross-posted with the permission of Science Speaks. Read the full article.

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